Care for car body in winter climate

dagosa…Cars these days are 100 times better in how they rust (or not rust) then they were just 20 years ago. Can they do better??? Probably…but they are so much better then they were 20 years ago…I’m very happy with the lack of rust I’ve seen.

The “oil treatment” was popular in he early part of the 20th century. Cars in those days weren’t designed to resist rusting, and the oil helped. It made a mess, but it helped.

I agree with Mike. Cars today are designed to be far, far more resistant to rust. Drainage and ventilation are designed in, processes that create less stress on the metal are used (spot welding where seam welding used to be necessary), better alloys are used, bonding has replaced a lot of welding, body/chassis assemblies are electrolytically coated in baths, etc. etc. etc.

There are two different phllosoophies on washing the underbody. Some believe in it, others like myself prefer not to risk salty water getting driven up into cavities where it wouldn’t otherwise get, cavities where it’ll not dry out and where it’s promote corrosion. It’s a choice you have to make.

As regards car washes, I use the hand wash when it’s too cold to use the hose at home, but have seen too much damage caused by the brushes in car washes. Perhaps the “touch free” washes are less destructive, but I personally prefer the hand wands. The idea is to get the crud off so that every time someone buts up against the car, or when you clear the snow off the car, you don’t sand spots on the paint.

hmmm… maybe i should have brought my beater car up here for winter: a '95 Crown Vic w/ 190,000 miles. but it was having transmission problems and a long list of other things and didn’t want to risk having it break down in the middle of nowhere and still having to get to Minneapolis.

I’m going to take the Jag to a local body shop that comes highly recommended to have some door dings taken out. I’ll solicit their opinion also.

But, I’m getting a little confused with the variety of answers.

We drove the Crown Vic for 10 years in Minneapolis w/ many trips to Chicago, some during the middle of winter. We got it washed regularly during the “road salt” season and it had no visible signs of rust when we donated it to the local public radio station just before the move.

Will that donation bring my Jag some good anti-rust Karma?

Perhaps, but when it comes to good luck karma I’m definitely not the one to ask…

Technical issues are relatively easy, but keeping a car in good shape in winter climates is in fact not “cut & dry”. Some issues like washing the underside have been debated on both sides for years. It’s more a matter or preference. I’ve stated my concerns with it, but cannot fault anyone for believeing in it. Some do it and have had great luck. I’ve not done it and had great luck.

Few people will disagree with keeping the exterior as clean as possible. Pushing snow and ice off of a dirt-laden car is much more likely to scratch the finish than pushing snow off of a clean and waxed car. Cars not kept clean and waxed will generally look far worse after 6 or 7 years than ones that have been. Besides, keeping the wndows and lights (DO NOT forget the lights!) clean is a safety issue. Clean headlights cast much more light, and clean brrakelights and directionals are easier for the other drivers to see. Whether you prefer a hand wand or a drive through wash. washing is good.

Yeah, it can be confusing. But you have to sort through the information, choose that which makes the most sense to you, and make your own decisions.

MikeInNH… “Can they do better??? Probably…but they are so much better then they were 20 years ago…I’m very happy with the la…”

Mike, you are absolutely right. But for me the kicker is this. Come trade in time, if your car has ANY perforation showing, any bubbling what so ever, we may be talking THOUSANDS of dollars difference in trade in and or private sale. These “beginning rust” showing cars may be in inspectable and drivable, but they go to auction and never see the lots of car dealers and are sold as beaters. ALL the cars I have ever traded were in such good shape body wise, even when older and high mileage, were put up front and sold within days. The dealers I trade with and the buyers I have in “Uncle Henry’s” always gave me top dollar when they find rust NO WHERE on older cars used daily in the rust belt.

The way I look at it, I pay myself hundreds of dollars each time I give my cars a 15 minute treatment every other year. Being a retired math teacher, the numbers add up pretty easily.

The really sad thing about this process is that ANYONE can do it in a day when few of us can do any another maintenance on modern cars. I hear all sorts of excuses…I guess from people who are afraid to do a little math, get their hands dirty or ultimately will have no reason to convince the Mrs. they need a new car(toy). Guess the economy is much better than I thought. :=)

By the time I sell my vehicles they have so many miles on them…any rust is NOT a problem. It’s the 300,000 miles that’s the problem. Vehicle runs GREAT…doesn’t burn a drop of oil…but they could care less that the body may be spotless if it has 300,000 miles on it.

how about a write up of how and where to add the oil? are we talking a spray bottle with a misting option or are you talking about a paint brush?

does all of this oil basically drip onto the roads and get washed into the local water ways?

please explain.

More like a squirt on, into any accessable areas that might entrap water and rust. But the process is really obsolete. Todays cars don’t rust like cars used to, and for anyone insisting on adding something extra there are countless options available at the parts store that didn’t exist in the early part of the 20th century.

Yup, much of the oil would (all of it eventually) would drip out and get washed into the local waterways. Which brings up an interesting point: the oiling process probably violates some law that didn;t exist in the very old days too.

I haven’t been here in a while, but here’s the update. I did some calling around and ended up getting the underside treated at Ziebart.

There were some cheaper places to have the work done, but Ziebart power washed the underside, inspected it to make sure it was thoroughly clean, washed it again to be sure, then let it sit over night to be completely dry before applying the rust proofing coating. They also treat the insides of the doors and wheel wells, especially the ‘dog-leg,’ which is the slim section between the rear door and real wheel well. They said that is the first place where rust forms, and as I started to look around at other cars in Minnesota, many cars over 10 years old had rust in that very spot.

For $40, they will inspect it before road-salt season ( aka, Winter) and touch up as needed. It cost $504 with tax, but I plan to drive this car for many years, so if amortized over that time, should be worth it. Or worth it to me at least.

Yes, I could get a beater car for November to mid-May, but I’m way to vain for drive around in a junky car.

"I haven’t been here in a while, but here’s the update. I did some calling around and ended up getting the underside treated at Ziebart. "

Apologetically…There are garages and independents out there that do this simple service for a lot less.let me say price wise…You just got “skewed”. They should have sprayed into ALL body cavities through all access holes with free flowing, non drain hole clogging light oil. Then, it needs to be followed up at least every two years. Preventing rust with one treatment and expecting it to work is like doing one motor oil change for the life of a car. The so called dog leg is one rust area…there are others by every drain hole in every door, the rockers, front and rear quarters. But, if you’re willing to part with an additional $40 a year, I suggest you question them on these points.

BTW, rust proofing your car has less to do with UNDERCOATING with a heavy spray which could accelerate rust, then frequent washing and light oil application in body cavities.

“Same and Mike” this one of the very few times we disagree. Mike.A car with 300K miles and a solid rust free body is worth many times more than a car with 100k miles but with lots of rust perforation…guaranteed, been there, done both sides of this issue.

Same… mechanics at both the dealerships and my favorite independent tell me what I do is proper, and do it themselves as well on their private cars. I have done it with my tractor attachments and my cars have NEVER had any rust in my or subsequent ownerships, some as long as twenty years…use linseed oil if you are worried about pollution. We are talking about one quarter every two years for the average sedan and little of that actually drains out.

“Same and Mike” this one of the very few times we disagree. Mike.A car with 300K miles and a solid rust free body is worth many times more than a car with 100k miles but with lots of rust perforation…guaranteed, been there, done both sides of this issue.

That’s NOT what I’m saying. I agree that a sold rust free body IS worth more. What I’m saying is…even after 300k miles none of our vehicles had any rust problems. My 98 Pathfinder was completely rust free…My wifes 87 Accord had some surface rust around the fender wells when we sold it at about 330k miles…Her 96 Accord we gave away to our niece when it had about 250k miles and it had 0 rust. Niece sold it after graduating from college and it had no rust on it.

I agree a good rust free vehicle is nice to have no matter how many miles on it. But manufacturers have come a long ways in preventing rust. Nissan, Toyota and Honda vehicles of the early 80’s were pitiful as far as rust is concerned. They were rusting out long before the engines or transmissions needed any work. Today they are on par with the BEST American made vehicles.

I like to winterize the inner wheel wells by washing those areas really well and then spraying FluidFilm* in those areas. It is a grease-like substance that doesn’t dry so stuff keeps moisture and dirt out really well. It keeps rust at bay.

Mike…you are right; cars have come a long way compared to yesterday. You definitely were doing a lot right to have cars last that long with that many miles. The antique car guy, a friend and co worker who sold me on his body maintenance technique, still has cars he bought and ran in the winter for over 30 years. His cars with festidious care are completely rust free. But, we have discussed this before, and manufacturers control rust in a very contrived way. I have done too much body work not to be convinced of that. They have come a long way…kicking and screaming.

Dont drive it in the winter or your doomed.

Dont drive it in the winter or your doomed.

Living in NH…that’s tough to avoid from November through March…And I haven’t had any problems.

Mike, I guess you and I are just plain doomed. Especially this winter. I think it’s going to be a doozy.

Years ago in Upstate NY…I knew people that would buy a winter beater to drive around. But they didn’t drive much and most were retired. I can’t afford FOUR (two for me and two for my wife) daily drivers. Just doesn’t make sense. And I’m not yet ready for that winter home in FL just yet.

I did call around town to several places, and the average price was $150 less than Ziebart. However, none of them did a power wash before the treatment and there had already had been one heavy snowfall and subsequent salting of the roads. Ziebart also treated the insides of the door, rocker and quarter panels, which only one other place did.

My job requires about 60 hours a week, and the fact that I live in a high rise apartment building means I have no place to work on the car. So, doing the work myself isn’t really an option.

BTW… the places that didn’t do the power wash offered no help in finding a reputable car wash that would do it well ( see comments about recycled water or lack of thoroughness). Their attitude was, “go figure it out and call us some other time.” The guys as Ziebart thought the Jag was a beauty and told me they gave it special attention. Whether they did or not, who knows? Still, the attitude and quality of service is worth something to me.

I belong to a car collectors club, and several guys in the club felt that in the Twin Cities at least, Ziebart does the best work for this treatment.

I hear where you are comming from and realize your dilemma. The problem with the power wash as a deciding factor is that it is incidental To the process of rust proofing as it is not where the most damaging part of body rust starts. It’s source is on the inside of panels where welds are at the bottom of doors, fender lips, rocker panels, inside floor boards, trunk floor etc. These areas are often poorly designed and don’t drain through drain holes as they should. You can’t and shouldn’t reach these areas with a power wash. I have gotten my best advice from body repair people, mechanics and antique car restoration devotes. Power washing is part regular maintenance program to neutralize the salt in areas you can reach.

I would hire a garage to do what I told them to do, not take a commercial rust proofing enterprises advice. The reason is, ziebart’s past methods I believe have accelerated the rust processes. The materials used and application technique are simple but specific. I would hire a garage that believed in it and watch them do it under my educated directions.

Anyone who wants to keep a car a long time in the rust belt needs to educate themselves as to what actually causes rust, exactly where the problem areas are on your car, and what can be done. You can hire someone else, but you need to know this for yourself to make sure it is done properly. That I feel anyone has time for. It’s not rocket science but is specific to each car. I feel your follow up care could best be done this way.

Never park the car in a heated garage after it’s been exposed to salt- the warm the car, the faster the chemical reaction that is rust.